Umar Nasko

Niger: Let Nasko Be

Politics

By Danladi Ndayebo

Weeks after Umar Muhammad Nasko has been established as the best man to succeed Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu as the next chief executive of Niger State, a few dissidents still haul insults at him. The PDP candidate for the February 28 governorship election in Niger State is certainly not a saint, but not many will agree with the desperate attempt by his opponents to disparage him.

Many philosophers believe politics could taint noble people. So it is with Nasko. After serving for seven and a half years, his impeccable record speaks volume about his public-spiritedness and his support for worthy causes. At an age when many still prattle and seek relevance, Nasko bestrides Niger State like a quintessential colossus, dishing out goodwill, service and altruism. These are undeniable.

From being an aspirant for the office of local government chairman, Nasko has gone through the drudgery of grassroots politics to etch his name as commissioner in four ministries. His crowning glory is as chief of staff to Governor Babangida Aliyu. The question remains, if he was not good, how has he been able to convince the chief servant that he could turn the people’s adversity upside-down as pronounced by the record of the present administration?

Nobody can deny that Nasko’s role in the last eight years has become a reference point for others. Except for cynics, Nasko’s intellect and contributions to the actualisation of the vision of making Niger State one of the top three most economically viable states by the year 2020 is incontrovertible.

Essentially, governance is not about loud noise. It has little to do with age. It has more to do with competence, sensitivity and responsiveness to the plight of the governed. In and out of public office, he exemplifies excellence. His mission, as contained in his declaration speech, has a huge trunk to do with making Niger State a better place.

The emergence of Malam Nasko as the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP was no happenstance. It is consistent with the mission and vision of the Niger State chief servant, Aliyu to raise the bar in public service and sustenance of a legacy of honour.

Like a visionary, the Talban Minna never shied from insisting that he would like his successor to be one of his co-sojourners who would understand the Vision 3:2020, to ensure policy consistency and continuity. The perception is in tandem with global best practices where the dynamics of modern development weigh heavily on the ability of those in leadership position to articulate a clear-cut vision for the attainment of set goals. Usually, a leader articulates a vision and then provides a guide to follow towards the accomplishment of a given task. Nigeria, like many developing countries, has a vision. What it does not seem to have is the consistency and strategies required to follow through its vision.

Consistency in implementation is therefore the key phrase when we talk about actualising a vision. The reason is that most visions cannot be implemented by one person or within a few years, hence the need for continuity. The trick, therefore, is for leaders at all levels to have a core team that will carry through the developmental initiatives of their predecessors.

It is not by accident that many countries that are making progress today are built on policy consistency and continuity. For instance, the immediate past Mozambican prime minister, Luísa Dias Diogo, was the minister in charge of finance and planning for many years. The Brazilian president, Dilma Vana Rousseff, was a core member of the team of former President Lula.

The above examples perhaps informed the decision of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to set up a core team, a team to pick from – Nasir el-Rufai, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nuhu Ribadu, Chukwuma Soludo and Oby Ezekwesili, among others.

All the good things of life that we crave for won’t happen overnight. There must be a visionary. There must be a vision. There must be consistency in the implementation of that vision. One person cannot be our saviour. There must be a crop of, if you like, “vision actualisers” who will continue to run the relay long after the visionary is gone.

One vision actualizer that the Aliyu administration identified and trusted is Nasko. His experience in public financial management, infrastructure planning and resource mobilisation puts him in good stead to move Niger State forward.

It is a self-evident truth that as tourism and culture commissioner, Nasko hosted the National Festival of Arts (NAFEST) that has not seen an equal since the state’s inception. He revived all the tourism sites and all the hitherto comatose places have become not only money spinners but reference points. A visit to Gurara Waterfall evinces the treasure of Niger State hitherto untapped and unknown to the world.

When Nasko was moved to the works ministry, he took his Midas touch along. The rural and township road network that he built speaks volume of the competence and sagacity of the ebullient public officer.

He was then seconded to the youths ministry. The youths and the young-at-heart never had it so good. Etched in the mind is the reservoir of knowledge and the ability to assert themselves as future leaders whose tomorrow starts from today.

Nasko’s stint at the Ministry of Environment changed the face of Niger State’s topography and his investment in climate change has formed a pattern for other states to follow. No wonder by the time he became chief of staff, he had seen it all. And, as a team player, he never shirked responsibility nor abdicated his chosen path of greatness.

Humble, unassuming, articulate and trustworthy, Nasko often brings to his job a selfless disposition that could thrust him up for greater service to God and humanity. I’m sure that when he gets into office, in May, all Nigerlites will be too happy that Vision 3:2020 has come on a roller coaster, what many call “auto-pilot”.

 

– Ndayebo, commissioner of information, Niger State, writes from Minna.

 

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